by - 6:58 PM

I used to spend a great deal of my time imagining how I wanted my life to be. I wanted to be thin. I wanted to live in New York City. I wanted to live a "creative" life. I wanted to wear lots of black. I wanted people to know me when I walked by. I wanted to be talked about, thought about, known about. I wanted to eat ice cream. I wanted to read books. I wanted to write books. I wanted to see my name on the mast head of a major magazine. I wanted to collect pennies. I wanted to decorate my home in all white.
Ryan has this charming phrase: "want in one hand and shit in the other. See which one fills up first."
Suffice it to say, what I wanted was entirely different from what I got.
I've officially switched from my regular reading routine (hello consenance!) to a book of holiday inspired short stories. I read a tale last night by Ray Bradbury. It tells the story of a priest, given the opportunity by God, himself, to reflect on his sins and seek forgiveness. There are several incredible lines in the story. Very briefly, the priest is called out of bed by his own conscience on Christmas Eve. He finds himself listening to an old man who begs to confess his sins in the middle of the night. Among them, the guilt of running from his grandmother in the street as a young boy. Upon hearing the pain and fear in her voice as she called his name, he felt power and it felt good. Decades later, the guilt overwhelmed him. Then he confessed the sin that he'd carried heavily for years. The sin that gripped tightly to his memory, refusing to be forgotten. His dog, the dog he loved more than anything, ran away for days and days. He thought it dead. Never to return. But then! It did! The confessor remembered, as a young boy, jumping from his bed in the middle of the night when he heard a familiar scratching at the door. How delighted he was!  He hugged the dog, snuggled him, petted him.
But then, fury overtook him. How dare the dog run from him, his master. He beat the dog, who stood there as though he deserved it. When he finished, he saw the dog look at him with stony eyes. Stony eyes that no longer held unassuming love.
The confessor wept. The priest was alarmed as he held the very same story, the same sin, within himself. You are forgiven, the priest told the confessor. I forgive you. you forgive yourself?
The confessor finally agreed. I forgive myself.
Then the confessor disappeared. Gone. Non-existant.
This story has a deep meaning, but the meaning was not what caught me last night. It was the puppy that lay at my feet. I immediately set the book down and called his name, cradling him in my arms and planting a kiss on his tiny, wet nose.
You don't always get what you want, but most of the time, you get what you need.
Somehow, my life has turned into something entirely unexpected. The things I thought I wanted have disappeared. I wanted such concise things, such immaculate dreams, but the interesting thing about life is the evolution of it all.
We all evolve. I don't want the things I used to. I don't want to be the person that I grew up, dreaming I'd be. I didn't get the things I wanted. I got the things I needed.
I got a little dog, whose tiny feet pitter-pat behind me as I walk. A dog who trusts me unconditionally, loves me unassumingly, and willingly needs me.
I got a man who isn't Mr. Big and certainly isn't Jonathon Taylor Thomas (dream lover, circa 1999), but is one-hundred-percent my counterpart.
I got so many things, so many unexpected, undreamed about things: things I love, things I cherish, things I needed. They weren't what I anticipated, or even wanted, in the past, but they are the very things I count when I subtract my blessings.
We are in full Christmas mode here, at the Hodges-ten Haaf residence.
For the first time in my adult life, we have a Christmas Tree. Purchased, decorated, enjoyed. I feel like I'm finally creating a home. A life.

Things are coming together. We are taking the things we have, the things we need, and making something wonderful.
Because, you know, 'tis the season.

Here's hoping that you enjoyed the first snowfall of the year as much as I did!


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